All-Star goalies match up in special state showdown
The Lightning and Panthers are atop the Atlantic Division, making for a special showdown tonight in Sunrise.
Tampa Bay trails Florida by three points, but has won seven straight, and could tie a franchise record with eight. The divison's All-Star goalies, Lightning's Ben Bishop and Panthers' Roberto Luongo will be in net.
"It's not too often you can say the two Florida teams are first and second division and playing real well and both good hockey teams," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "It's a lot of fun. You want to win every divisional game, but even this game tonight is a real big game."
The Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak Friday with a 4-0 win over Chicago. Coach Jon Cooper said he hopes that Florida makes the playoffs.
"I think for hockey in Florida, it'd be great if the Panthers got in," Cooper said. "You look at those rivalries, say it's Islanders-Rangers, or Calgary -Edmonton, those in-province, in-state rivalries, and we have a team right now in our backyard and for us to both be in the playoffs, and who knows what woudl happen if we ever met in a playoff series? I think it'd be great for hockey in Florida and a great series to watch."
More from morning skate: Cooper indicated there could be a lineup change, which might mean Erik Condra is back in over Jonathan Marchessault, who has been scratched five of the last seven games... Cooper said they want to keep the "attack mentality" it used in a 2-1 win over Chicago Thursday, arguably it's best game of the season. Cooper said the team talked about Game 1 of the Cup Final before Thursday's game, noting how it lost after it sat back too much. "Let's don't do it tonight,' and the results turned out well." Cooper said C Tyler Johnson is showing signs of being his old self after missing so much time with injuries and has been a big part of the resurgence. Captain Steven Stamkos said the team had a "look yourself in a mirror" moment after the loss in Calgary, sparking the seven-game win streak. "I think deep down we knew (a win streak) was going to happen," Stamkos said. "I’m not sure if anyone believed in us, but we believed in ourselves."